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Alex and Claire

Healing with Holy Name: A Family Affair

Holy Name Patient Stories - Garcia family

The Garcia family says that their story is like “a real life Parent Trap,” and they credit Holy Name with helping bring their family back together amid unexpected hardships.

In 2018, Alexandria Garcia, then 28, was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. A busy biology teacher and real estate agent, Alexandria was used to being independent. But after she was in a car accident, she began to feel weak: She was unable to walk up and down the stairs or even scramble eggs standing at her stove. She turned to her parents, Alex and Claire, for support. Although they had been divorced since Alexandria was a child, they were still close and banded together to care for their daughter.

As they worked with Holy Name to help Alexandria, Claire and Alex fell in love again. They got engaged for the second time on August 19th, 2021, and planned a wedding for summer 2023. But months away from the big day, new health concerns arose.

In March, Claire, who is a special education teacher’s assistant, lost her balance and began to feel dizzy while walking up the stairs with a student. She made an appointment with neurologist Dr. Thomas Kreibich, who diagnosed her with vertigo. For months, Claire’s symptoms were so severe that she couldn’t work. “She was walking into walls,” Alex recalls. Claire began physical therapy with Kristen Sullivan, PT, DPT and Susan Philip, PT. But, she worried that her vertigo would interfere with the plans she and Alex had to get married on a yacht.

A few months later, the family faced another setback. In May, Alex was relaxing in his backyard when the hammock he was sitting in flipped over. The fall caused a tear in his rotator cuff, and he had surgery to repair it less than two months before the wedding, in June. After he healed, Alex started physical therapy with Justin Jacob, PT, DPT. Soon enough, Claire and Alex were attending their therapy sessions three times a week.

“It was very difficult. There were times when I wanted to give up.” Claire said. “Those times when I wanted to give up, they encouraged me and I kept going. They had me dancing out of there.”

Happily, Claire and Alex were able to get married on the yacht just as they planned it. Claire no longer felt dizzy, and Alex no longer needed his sling.

“It was all possible because of Holy Name,” Alex said.“I am forever grateful.”

“It means everything to a person’s healing when people are kind and they motivate you,” added Claire.

After working with neurologists Dr. Marissa Oller and Dr. MaryAnn Picone, Alexandria’s living a life she never dreamed of before. Thanks to the monthly infusions of Tysabri, a disease-modifying drug for active relapsing MS, she is out of a wheelchair and thriving. She too credits the therapy she received from Holy Name, particularly speech therapy, with getting her back to herself. Recently, Alexandria was named Miss Bergen County 2024, and she and her sister Alexis Garcia, Miss Passaic County 2024, often appear together to speak about Alexandria’s journey. Alexis even wrote a book about her sister’s life: Alexandria: The Ballerina Living With Multiple Sclerosis.

Alexandria calls Holy Name “the backbone of our family.” Her parents wholeheartedly agree.

Learn more about Holy Name's Center for Physical Rehabilitation